Regency Era Fashion Plate - December 1807 La Belle Assemble
General Observations on the Most Approved and Elegant Fashions for the Season
The fashions for the winter may now be considered fixed as to style; and that intermediate and party-coloured costume which generally distinguishes the decline of autumn is completely laid aside. Articles, combining at once taste, fashion, and utility, are observable in walking and carriage habiliments. In public, a brilliant and endless variety is displayed; and elegance, grace, and beauty may be said to shine unrivalled. We shall, with our accustomed attention, select from their several orders such articles as carry the stamp of fashionable superiority, not only from their own inidividual elegance, but from their being chosen by females who rank high on the list of tonish celebrity. We have not been able to discover much diversity in the construction of mantles and pelisses. They are now considered more fashionable in proportion to their plainness; and although some few are made with robbins and Grecian vests, trimmed with fancy fur, yet the most select and fashionable are in formation like the Turkish robe, with a waistcoat of the same, or composed of an appropriate silk, and breasted a-la-militaire. The Maltese mantle of tiger velvet is in general esteem; and the long canonical cloak of crimson, orange, or brown, formed of kerseymere, or Georgian cloth, are both useful, appropriate, and becoming articles. The edges of these are severally ornamented with velvet borders, laid flat; a full cable-twisted cord placed at a little distance from the edge, or with skins happily contrasted with the colour of the mantle. The Parisian fashion of associating colours, is adopted by the British female, though in other respects the Gallic fair have long become copyists of our English style. The coupling of our colours, however, we consider as more chaste and consistent for the season; they still continue the pale lines of summer, while we are uniting the glowing orange, or brilliant coquelicot and morone, with the most tasteful shades of contrasted elegance. In the article of gowns and robes, there is much novelty and attraction. Coloured dresses, variously constructed, and of divers forms and materials, are exhibited; and in full dress, less white garments are distinguishable than have been observable for many years, white dresses being now more generally confined to the morning costume. The sable robe is not now considered only as the symbol of sorrow, as an emblem of mournful regret for departed excellence, friendship, or love. The springhtly mynph, the cheerful matron, with fashion's gayest offspring, frequently adopt the robe of sombre hue; but the solemnity is removed by borders and trimmings of embroidery, in colours. We have seldom seen a dress combining more taste and beauty than one of black Italian gauze, embroidered round the train, bosom, and sleeves, with a border of wild roses and jessamine, tastefully blended, and worn over a white satin slip. Velvet and superfine cloth dresses, richly embroidered, and formed in the Calypso robe, or Diana vest, stand high in richness and beauty. Lace is let in to every part of this last-mentioned habit, but is most distinguishable down each side, so as to give the appearance of a robe and petticoat. Deep embroidered borders of needle-work are continued round the trains, and across the front of dresses, in representation of the rounded wrap. Bonnets of velvet, of the poke form, cut so as to display the ears, and ornamented with fur, or puckered silk, the colour of the lining of the pelisse, are much in esteem. Figured sarsnet bonnets, with the simple round crown, and turned up in the high crescent form over the left eye, in full puckers, or reversed plaiting; beaver riding-hats, of dove or purple, and otherwise shaded to match the pelisse or mantle; fur caps, and jockey bonnets of purple leather, seamed with bright yellow, or red, are severally selected by the fashionable female. Small half-handkerchiefs, in coloured net, with rich borders, are still considered as a becoming change. The corner behind is cut off, and the border continued straight along the back, while the ends which fall on each side the head are finished with an acorn tassel, corresponding with the border; and on the forehead it is formed precisely like the Anne Bullen mob.
The Swedish peasant's jacket and petticoat, is a habit of much attraction and simplicity; combining a sort of rusticity and interest, at once appropriate, and becoming to the youthful wearer. Trains are now very general in the evening dress; and are frequently trimmed entirely round with a broad lace. Muslins are usually worn very clear, and the petticoat s short, as to exhibit the ankle through, which is laced in the sandal style, ornamented with the open-wove stocking. We have seen a dress of this kind composed of blue crape, with trimmings and drapery of silver-net and lilies. The hair still preserves the Grecian and antique style; but is variously and fancifully disposed. Some braid the whole of the hind hair, and curling the ends, form them in full curls over the left eye. Others confine it tight round the head in smooth bands, over which are placed several small braids, which are twisted at the back of the head, like that given in No. 1, of our Prints of Fashion; and some form the hind hair in dishevelled curls, and form it in a becoming disorder on the crown of the head, meeting the curls on the forehead, which are divided so as to discover the left temple and eye-brow; while many prefer the simple crop, curled on the top like those worn by the gentlemen. Morning gowns are often laced behind with coloured cord, and formed with the military front made in similar lacings, and correspondent buttons.
The cap is now chiefly confined to the morning costume; and in this article we see nothing strikingly novel. Turbans seem to be entirely exploded; but hats of frosted satin, or velvet, somewhat in the turban style, may very well supply their place. In these hats the weeping willow feather is usually seen, delicately tipped with silver. Necklaces of seed coral, with gold embossed patent snaps; bracelets, of the same; brooches and earrings to correspond, wrought in antique devices, or in Egyptian characters, are articles of considerable estimation on the list of trinkets. The rainbow diadem, and Ethiopian crescent, are also new and elegant ornaments. Bracelets are now worn of different orders, one of elastic hair, with variegated stud; the other of Scotch pebbles, or mocho stone, set in gold. Slippers of red Morocco are revived in the fashionable world; white satin are considered most elegant in full dress. The prevailing colours are, mixtures of orange, coquelicot, green, purple, amber, and rose-pink.